You may know Banana Republic as part of Gap Inc., but it was originally founded as a separate entity in 1978 by Mel and Patricia Ziegler. The two-store chain sold travel and safari-themed clothing, which was marketed in unique, hand-drawn catalogs, filled with stories of exotic locations. Other products in the catalog received the same dramatic treatment, and the interior of the stores was outlined in a safari motif, with real jeeps, trees and plants. Steam and fog were generated to amplify the mood. Gap purchased Banana Republic in 1983, and the brand was changed to the high-end clothing store you know today.
To reach the low-price sector of the retail market, Gap created Old Navy in 1994. The shoe outlet Piperlime was introduced in 2006, and Gap followed with the purchase of Athleta, an athletic brand for women, in 2009. As of 2014, Gap has over 3,000 outlets internationally, with approximately 500 stores in the United States and 20 in Canada. The brand has expanded into Europe, the Middle East and Asia since 2000.
Banana Republic fragrances are created in conjunction with Inter Parfums Inc., with the first perfume, Classic, introduced in 1995. Other scents include Alabaster for women, introduced in 2006, and Black Walnut for men, introduced the same year. Banana Republic continues to manufacture fragrances for both men and women, while also moving forward in the expansion of its product line, even venturing into the candle market.